Crime Fiction Alphabet – O is for One Good Turn

letter OWe have reached the letter O in Kerrie’s Crime Fiction Alphabet and my book this week is:

One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie #2)

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

This is the second of her Jackson Brodie series. I read Case Histories, the first one, a few years ago and the third one, When Will There be Good News? just over 2 years ago, both of which I thought were excellent. So I had great expectations that this would be equally as good. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think it is. It is good and I enjoyed it but I thought it was over complicated, especially at the beginning with so many different seemingly unrelated characters being introduced. It’s only near the end that you find out the connections and interactions between them all. And the ending did take me by surprise – a neat twist.

My problem with this book that I’d just get interested in one strand of the story and want to find out what happened next, when the action shifted to another set of characters. There is also too much detail, background information and flashbacks holding up the action for me to say it’s an excellent book.

But it is still a book that I had to finish; I had to find out what happened and work out the puzzle, because it is a puzzle. Like the Russian dolls within dolls (which also feature in this book), there is a thread connecting it all together. Set over four days an awful lot happens changing the characters lives for ever.

It’s summer in Edinburgh at Festival time when people queuing for a lunchtime show witness a road rage incident after Paul Bradley brakes suddenly to avoid hitting a pedestrian. The driver of the Honda behind him attacks his car with a baseball bat and then attacks Paul himself.  The one good turn comes from Martin Canning, the author of the Nina Riley mysteries, who stops the attack by throwing his laptop bag at the Honda driver hitting him on the shoulder.

One of the people in the queue is Jackson Brodie, who doesn’t want to get involved but who nevertheless gives Martin his mobile number and noted the Honda’s registration number. Amongst other witnesses are Gloria, the wife of an unscrupulous property developer, and her friend Pam. I got to like Gloria, a very sympathetically drawn character. Numerous other characters are involved – Jackson’s actress girlfriend, a failing comedian, exploited Eastern European workers for a housecleaning/escort agency called Favours, and Sergeant Louise Monroe and her teenage son, Archie, amongst others.

It’s complicated and full of coincidences, a very cleverly plotted book and as Jackson says:

A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.

One Good Turn is also my entry in Beth’s What’s In a Name Challenge – a book with a number in the title.

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; Reprint edition (22 July 2010)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0552772445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552772440

8 thoughts on “Crime Fiction Alphabet – O is for One Good Turn

  1. I have only read When Will There Be Good News and though I did thoroughly enjoy the characters I reached’ coincidence overload’ before the end so I haven’t read any more of the series, though I actually have two of them (including this one) on my TBR shelves.


  2. This was my favourite of the Brodie books mainly because I thought the puzzle was so cleverly constructed. Having said that, I have to add that I think Atkinson has taken Brodie as far as she can go and I’d like to see her try her hand at something else now.


  3. I have read all three, but I thought I was the only fan of Atkinson who didn´t really appreciate this one. Though the plot is clever, the car accident and all the consequences of it seemed so random to me that I never really got into the story.


  4. I did enjoy this one Margaret but I must admit there were bits of it that were “odd”. Thanks for covering it with the CFA this week though.


  5. I liked this one, but it hasn’t stuck with me in the way some of Kate Atkinson’s others. Maybe just a little too complex. And much as I like Jackson Brodie, I have to agree with Annie and say that it is maybe time Kate Atkinson headed in a different direction.


  6. Margaret – Thanks for this review. This one is a little strange and complicated and you’re quite right that there are a number of flashbacks. Like you, though, I liked the character of Gloria very much. A terrific review, and a good choice for “O.”


  7. I think I’ve reached ‘coincidence overload’ too, Bernadette, and I agree with Annie and Fleur that maybe Kate Atkinson should try another tack.
    Dorte and Kerrie, I found the detail distracted me too much from the actual plot.
    Margot, glad you liked Gloria too.


  8. I have been passing this book, as well as When Will They Be Good News? a lot lately; or maybe it is just that I notice them more at the moment. Maybe it’s time for me to read another Atkinson. I was hesitating, but your review convinced me…


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